PLAINVIEW, Texas, June 24 -- Wayland Baptist University issued the following news release:
While the ground breaking was more figurative than literal, Wayland Baptist University, community members and special guests gathered in the auditorium of the Museum of the Llano Estacado Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the beginning stage of construction on the Jimmy Dean Museum.
Originally scheduled as an outdoor event, a morning rain storm forced festivities to be moved indoors, but it was nonetheless meaningful to those in attendance. Jimmy Dean's widow, Donna Dean Stevens, her husband Jayson Stevens, Paul DiPasquale, who sculpted the Jimmy Dean bronze that will welcome visitors to the museum and Tamara Elliott of Hillshire Brands, which donated the sculpture, were all on hand, as well as members of Lavin and Associates architects and representatives from the Jimmy Dean Foundation.
Chair of the Wayland Board of Trustees Sally Walker addressed the group and Donna, likening Jimmy Dean to the faithful witness laid forth by Timothy in the Apostle Paul's second letter to Timothy in the New Testament.
"What we are doing is taking a faithful man's witness and giving continual voice to that witness so that it doesn't die," Walker said. "It is our prayer that we remain trustworthy in continuing that witness."
Dean Stevens thanked Walker for her words and thanked the crowd that gathered for the ceremony.
"I feel like I'm coming home here. I love Plainview and West Texas so much," she said.
Dean Stevens told of visiting Plainview with Jimmy and how he would like to "make a store call" and give out "George Washington coupons." She said Jimmy always met people who treated him like he was their neighbor and that was the way he felt.
"Jimmy was a giving person," Dean Stevens said. "It is my mission to carry on his legacy and his memory, and I can't think of a better way to do that than to have his museum here at Wayland in Plainview."
Preliminary work has already begun as phone and network cables have been moved to prepare for the new building. The approximately $5 million project will begin construction as soon as the final touches are put on the architect plans in hopes that the building will be complete in time to celebrate Jimmy's birthday in August of 2015.
Wayland Baptist University President Dr. Paul Armes said the museum will be a great addition to the university and the community.
"On behalf of the Wayland family," he said to Dean Stevens, "one behalf of the community of Plainview and the larger area, and the thousands and thousands of people who will walk through this museum to learn about a man they love, we thank you. It means a lot to us - what you have done - and we are grateful."
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